AWS Lambda vs. Heroku: What’s the Difference?

AWS Lambda vs. Heroku


Looking to run your applications in the cloud? AWS Lambda and Heroku are two good options. While AWS Lambda is a serverless computing platform, Heroku web apps typically use a more traditional architecture. So what's the difference between Heroku vs. AWS Lambda, and how can you choose between them?

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What is AWS Lambda?

Together with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services is one of the top three public cloud computing providers. AWS has a wide variety of cloud compute and storage offerings, including PaaS (platform as a service), IaaS (infrastructure as a service), and SaaS (software as a service) solutions.

AWS Lambda is a serverless computing solution from Amazon Web Services. Lambda is what's known as a FaaS (function as a service) platform: lambda functions are executed only in response to a given event or trigger.

While AWS Lambda can't run full-blown applications, lambda functions can serve as a backend for applications running elsewhere in the AWS ecosystem. AWS Lambda can also integrate with other AWS services such as Amazon CloudWatch for application and infrastructure monitoring. Elastic Beanstalk is another alternative for deploying, scaling, and orchestration web applications in the AWS cloud.

What is Heroku?

Heroku is a PaaS (platform as a service) solution owned by Salesforce for building, deploying, and managing cloud services and applications. Originally intended for use with the Ruby on Rails web app framework, Heroku now supports other programming languages such as Java, Python, Scala, PHP, Clojure, and Node.js as well. Heroku also makes it easy to integrate with a Postgres database

Some key Heroku terms include:

  • Heroku dynos: virtualized containers that are the "building blocks" of Heroku web apps, offering real-time flexibility and auto-scaling.
  • Heroku buildpacks: open-source build automation scripts or templates that define how to create a container image.
  • Heroku add-ons: plugin tools and services that extend a Heroku app's functionality.
  • The command-line interface (CLI) is Heroku's tool for creating and running Heroku apps directly within a computer terminal.
  • Git: a popular version control system for saving and tracking changes to source code over time. Heroku users can use the platform's CLI to deploy with Git, including the GitHub hosting platform for git repositories. Serverless Tools

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AWS Lambda vs. Heroku: 3 Key Differences

Deciding between AWS Lambda and Heroku? Here are three crucial differences to know about:

  • Pricing: Heroku's "production" tier costs roughly $25 to $50 per dyno per month. AWS Lambda pricing is a little trickier: it includes a free tier, but also charges money based on the amount of concurrency, the number of requests, and the duration.
  • Functionality: Unlike Heroku, AWS Lambda is an explicitly serverless offering: lambda functions only execute in response to a given trigger. Unlike Heroku, Lambda can't host full-blown applications.
  • Integrations: Both Heroku and AWS Lambda come with APIs (application programming interfaces) for integrating with other software and services. For example, you can use Amazon API Gateway to create a web API with an HTTP endpoint for a given lambda function.
AWS Lambda vs. Heroku


Can't decide the right answer to the question of AWS Lambda vs. Heroku? The right answer could be one, both, or neither—your other options include Docker and Kubernetes. With so many alternatives and use cases out there, why not go with a platform like IronWorker that supports any deployment configuration?

IronWorker can run in the cloud, on-premises, on a dedicated server, or in a hybrid cloud/on-premises model. With a gentle learning curve, robust docs and tutorial videos, and excellent customer support, it's never been easier to get started with IronWorker.

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